Osip Mandelstam: The Bread is Poisoned

The bread is poisoned, air is sipped up:
It’s hard to tend to open wounds!
Poor Joseph being sold to Egypt
Would feel less wretched in his bonds.
Under pitch-dark star-studded heavens
Astride the horses with eyes shut
The Bedouins make fiery ballads
Of steps recalled from daily rut.
Mundane events feed inspiration:
A quiver lost among vast sands,
A stallion bartered – the occasions
As foggy muddiness disband.
And if intense and earnest singing 
Expands one’s breast and fills the heart,
All vanish – there reign supremely 
The stars, the distance and the bard!



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